Awareness about invasive species is at its height during the warm summer months when people are hiking, biking, boating, and otherwise enjoying the great outdoors. However, invasive plants, animals …
Awareness about invasive species is at its height during the warm summer months when people are hiking, biking, boating, and otherwise enjoying the great outdoors. However, invasive plants, animals and microorganisms can still wreak havoc on ecosystems during the cold winter months.
“Invasive species never take a day off,” said Larry Smith, president, Wyoming Weed and Pest Council. “We have to remain diligent during the winter season to slow the spread of invasive species that threaten our ecosystem.”
When headed outdoors for winter fun, the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council encourages everyone to follow these important tips:
1. Hiking/winter boots — Be sure to stay on marked trails and remove mud, leaves, and other debris using a boot brush.
2. Ice fishing — Check and clean anything that comes in contact with lake or river water, including bait, hooks, lines and augers. Purchase native bait at a local shop — don’t bring it from home. Be sure to properly discard any aquatic invasive species you catch. Don’t put them back in the water. Keep in mind that certain invasive species like zebra mussels can survive under water during the winter.
3. Cross-country skiing — Stay on groomed trails and away from mud, plants, leaves, and other debris. Thoroughly clean equipment when done.
4. Snowmobiles — Where was your trailer/snowmobile parked over the summer? If there were invasive plants in the storage location, they could be hitching a ride wherever you go on your snowmobile. Be sure to check your equipment to make sure there are no plant parts or seeds.
5. Clean and dry — Carefully clean and wipe down any gear or equipment that is wet. Wait a minimum of five days to ensure everything is dry and free of invasive microorganisms.
6. Certified hay and firewood — Utilize certified, weed-free hay for livestock. Don’t move firewood long distances. Instead, buy it where you plan to burn it and purchase certified heat-treated firewood.
7. Invasive plants — Even during the dormant winter months, invasive plant species can damage forests and grasslands. The winter season is a good time to take control of invasive plants because they are easier to spot when leaves are down. Use an app like Picture This to identify invasive species or contact your local weed and pest district to develop a plan.
8. Man’s best friend — It’s easy for invasive plants and seeds to get stuck on your furry friend. Be sure to check your dog thoroughly after a hike, hunting trip, or other excursion.
“At the end of the day, it’s important to remain vigilant when it comes to fighting invasive species — even during the winter,” Wyoming Weed and Pest officials say. “Despite the cold weather and the fact that plants are not growing doesn’t diminish the spread of viable seed throughout the state.”
For more tips on how to avoid the spread of invasive species during the winter months, visit www.wyoweed.org.